Firefighters from around the country came together in Dallas for the 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb held Saturday morning to honor the 343 firefighters that died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Waxahachie firefighters Jason Eubanks, Shane Petty and Scott Safford and Midlothian firefighter Scott Spaulding climbed the Renaissance Tower to pay their respects to their fallen brothers. Firefighters climbed the Renaissance Tower twice to equal 110 stories, which was the height of the World Trade Center.
Opening up the event was Grapevine Fire Department Deputy Chief Darrell Brown.
“It is a distinct honor to be in front of you today. Sept. 11 is a date that will be a significant date in American History. I remember where I was when the first tower fell as most of you do. The legacies of hundreds of families were changed forever,” Brown said. “Each of you represents one of those brave firefighters. You’re here today to honor those that have gone before us, specifically those who were murdered on Sept.11 as well as the numerous that died serving on the pile. They made this a better place, and I know that they would be honored for what you’re doing here today.”
Firefighters making the climb were given an accountability tag that feature a picture of a New York Firefighter that died in the line of duty or passed away from working at ground zero. On that historic day, 343 firefighters died with an additional 69 having passed away since working in the hazardous conditions.
Before heading into the building firefighters touched a piece of steel from the World Trade Center.
Waxahachie firefighter Jason Eubanks said the climb really put the events of Sept. 11 in perspective.
“I was climbing for Louis Arena. He was on Ladder Five. There was not a lot of information about him on Internet. They said that he really loved the fire service and that he really loved his job,” Eubanks said. “It made you think about the climb the guys from New York had to go through. It (the memorital climb) is an amazing event and it makes you very humble. I am very glad that I took part in it.”
The moment each tower fell was recognized at 9:59 a.m. and 10:28 a.m. Firefighters stopped where they were in the stairwell and activated their personal alert safety devices. The devices were then shut off to allow for a moment of silence followed by a playing of “Taps.”
Upon reaching the top firefighters placed their accountability tag on a board indicating that the firefighter they climbed for reached the top of the building. Firefighters making the climb wore full bunker gear and an air pack.
Waxahachie firefighter Shane Petty climbed for Lt. Vincent Giammona who was with Ladder Five when he was killed in the lined of duty at the World Trade Center.
This is definitely one of the hardest things that I have done,” Petty said. “It makes you feel very honored that you are walking for one of the guys.”
Petty said during the difficult parts of the climb what kept him going was that he was there to do his best for the person he was selected to honor.
Midlothian firefighter Scott Spaulding said while the climb was difficult it was worth it because it helps to keep the memory of these individuals alive.
“It gave me a new perspective and respect for the firefighters that actually did climb the stairs on Sept.11 with all the equipment they had to carry, the task that they faced and the fact that they had to fight fire and rescue people,” Spaulding. “It was a tremendous honor and privilege for the firefighters, but specifically for Thomas Hannafin who was the guy I climbed for. Just the fact the each one of us had a name and a face and a story to put with the event and who we were climbing for, it was pretty neat to carry on their legacy.”
The climb raised money for the Texas Line of Duty Task Force, which provides support for Texas families and department that have lost a firefighter. Firefighters were asked to solicit pledges of a minimum of $1 per floor.
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